Pilot a giant land boat
This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Far: Lone Sails [official site].
It’s there when you first start the engine, in the hiss of steam as you press the ignition button and the rumble as the great wheels begin to turn. Then the music swells and you know the journey has begun.
Far: Lone Sails is a game by Okomotive about piloting a giant land boat across a destroyed landscape, about tending a huge machine through unpropitious conditions: hail and storms, fires, failure and shortages of fuel. And a great deal of your understanding of its colossal workings comes through sound, with music which responds to your actions and many layers of looping sound effects which subtly change shape as you trundle through a vast wilderness. Read the rest of this entry »
The holy trinity of gaming mice
I’ll admit to doing a bit of a double-take when I saw how much the Razer Naga Trinity goes for these days. £100 / $90? On your bike, lad. But then I realised the Naga Trinity isn’t really just a single mouse. With its trio of interchangeable side plates, this is three mice in one, giving you the option of two, seven or twelve extra buttons to use how you see fit, from classic desktop tasks to having every last MOBA and MMO command right there at your fingertips. It’s also, I might add, pretty damn comfy.
Read the rest of this entry »
The rise and fall of choice and consequence
When I published my Vampyr review (summary: choice is an illusion, apart from when it’s a roulette wheel; the dialogue’s stuffy but the fights are tight if you invest in them), I estimated that I was about two-thirds of the way through the game. With embargoes and deadlines out the way, I was curious to see how it all resolved, and particularly what, if any, pdark consequences would ultimately ripple outwards from the choices I had made. It’ll just take few hours, I reasoned. One more working day.
16 hours of increasingly maddening play later, I grimly watched the credits roll, my mind a whirl of relief, contempt and despair. If my post-review return to Vampyr had immediately collapsed into the combination of soporific lore and desperately ill-judged combat excess that did its final furlong, I wouldn’t have minded so much. What frustrated me was that this was preceded by a strong stretch wherein it finally became the game of agonising vampiric dilemmas that we’d hoped it would be from the start. So close to brilliance, and then this abrupt decay into absolute folly. Read the rest of this entry »
A bitter royale
It was a matter of time before battle royale got spun up from a top-down perspective. True, the surprisingly fun surviv.io was the first to get there – but that’s essentially a 2D port of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and nearly as shallow as that description implies. Dota 2 is the first game to tackle the genre with a little more depth: I’ve been playing its Underhollow mode, with strangers.
I do not advise playing Dota 2’s Underhollow mode with strangers. Read the rest of this entry »
Blizzard's shooter is getting less interesting
Symmetra has always been a bit of an odd-hero-out among Overwatch’s roster of characters. She was the only support character not capable of healing her teammates, leaving players unsure of what her role was. Despite a previous rework, she was rarely played. At lower levels she was sometimes chosen in very specific situations, usually as the first point of defence on certain maps, but her pick rate plummeted the further up the rankings you went. In the Overwatch League, she was the only hero to never be played at all.
Yet she was also one of the most hated characters in the game. The main point of contention was her auto-aim primary fire, which locked on to enemies within range and charged up, doing more damage over time. Players who thought the game should only reward a narrow definition of skill, hinging on aim and reflexes, became vitriolic. “No aim, no brain, Symmetra main,” became a meme, often seen in match chat whenever someone got frustrated. And that was a milder comment; when I chose her after the rework was announced (but before it was playable on the test servers), one member of the opposing team told me: “People who play Sym are f*****s and shall be executed.” Read the rest of this entry »
You won't get away with this, Snowmancer!
Oh look, this Life is Strange spin-off is due out next week as a freebie. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a two-hour pretend-em-up in which you play Chris, an imaginative kid who fancies himself a superhero on the weekends, and isn’t afraid to take on evil beings like the powerful Snowmancer (a snowman) and nasty beasts such as the dreaded Water Eater (the water heater). That sounds like fun. Until you discover the real enemies lurking in Chris’ modest bungalow. Grief, alcoholism, and neglect are the underlying villains here, if the demo I saw at E3 is anything to go by. More like the Super Concerning Adventures of Captain Sadness, am I right?
*starts sobbing* Read the rest of this entry »
Round and round and round
If Euro and American Truck Simulator left me with a deep envy of lorry drivers and a daydream of becoming one, Bus Simulator 18 leaves me with a deep sympathy for bus drivers and a great terror that I might ever become one. Read the rest of this entry »
The devil's in the details
Cyberpunk 2077 finally came out of its shell at E3 2018. CD Projekt Red’s first-person, open-world RPG was shown to the world via a colourful, exciting trailer, and then shown to press with a long, 50-minute in-game demonstration. We’ve seen both, interviewed the developers, interviewed the creator of the original Cyberpunk 2020 pen-and-paper RPG, and done our best to hack the Gibson to reveal any extra information we can. Below you’ll find all of that plus the usual announcements, trailers, and release date information. Read the rest of this entry »
The best of show
During this year’s E3, I saw the largest screen I’d ever witnessed, folded around the corner of a building like a giant piece of glowing paper. It told me to buy Nike. LA is already the neon futuretown of California, never mind Night City. But I didn’t just see ads for shoes at the LA convention centre, I saw a lot of games too. From the bustling streets of Cyberpunk 2077 to the twisting tornadoes of Just Cause 4. From the crumbling Capitol of The Division 2 to the clumsy motorcycling of Trials Rising. Here are my highlights from the game industry’s annual festival of bullets and colour, the sci-fi dystopia that was with us all along. Read the rest of this entry »
Blinded by the light
A room full of mannequins is rarely a safe place in videogames, but in Dying Light 2 it looks especially unnerving. Welcome to a zombie nest, where dozens of shamblers sleep during the day, huddling together in the shade of an abandoned clothes shop. They sleep upright, like decomposing commuters nodding off in a packed tube carriage. The best thing to do when you enter one of these “dark places” is to stay low, quiet and – oh god they’re awake get out get out leap through the window climb a drainpipe throw yourself through that door get back to the sunlight go go go. Read the rest of this entry »
Flip burgers and fight the undead
Recover from the rampant commercialism of E3 with some free games! Below you’ll find a puzzle game about love and making the right connection, a wacky platformer where you are a hatched human looking to get to the castle, and an interactive poem explaining why one person cries. If those concepts don’t pique your interest, you can run a restaurant and fight off zombies at the same time, or check out a single person’s daily routine as it cycles through. Explore this week’s five free games and see what you find. Read the rest of this entry »
The mother of all questions
When it comes to building your own PC, there are some bits of the upgrade process that are easier to work out than others. Picking the best graphics card for your system is pretty easy, as is deciding which CPU you want to go for. The hard part is finding the right motherboard for everything you’ve just bought.
We’re here to help. Below, you’ll find an in-depth guide of which motherboards are compatible with which CPUs, as well as everything you need to know about all the different types of chipsets and sockets you’ll see when buying a new motherboard. If you’re thinking about making the jump to Intel’s new 8th Gen Coffee Lake processors, or fancy one of AMD’s Ryzen+ chips but don’t know which motherboard you should get, read on.
Read the rest of this entry »
From reformed pagans to unreformed sharks
The Paradox DLC factory continues to diligently extend the lives of its myriad grand strategy romps, with all but Stellaris getting new DLC announcements at PDXCON last month. We’re getting restless pagan warriors, war elephants and even some sharks. If you can match the feature to the game, you get a polite nod of respect.
Rather than tiring you out, making you click on three articles like a thoughtless task master, I’ve gathered all the sizzling deets in one place. Rest those fingers and direct your eyes below to find out what’s changing in Hearts of Iron 4, Europa Universalis 4 and Crusader Kings 2.
Read the rest of this entry »
Including Yakuza on PC at last
Well, that was E3. Another year down, and it feels like a good one. Let’s cap the week off with another roundup of the week’s best gaming deals to check out – and now, excitingly, I can talk about the Yakuza series, so that’s nice. Everything becomes a PC game eventually.
As usual, we’ve got deals that’ll work in the UK, deals that’ll work in the US and some deals that will work in both the UK and US, as well as presumably many other places. Let’s get started. Read the rest of this entry »
Mira Tannhauser really, really loves buses
Forget Newell’s billions, Plunkbat and whichever indie renaissance is currently happening: the real success story of Steam, over the years, is superficially dour and highly-specific vehicle simulations finding large audiences who have very little interest in steering torque or rim patterns. I have filled these pages with paeans to American Truck Simulator‘s soul-searching road odysseys, to the hypnotic satisfaction of stripping parts in Car Mechanic Simulator 2018, and even to the rhythmic, weirdly cyberpunk otherness of casting lines and gutting trout in Fishing: Barents Sea.
I’d had gentle hope that Bus Simulator 2018 might similarly be more than the sum of its dry, mass transit parts, but actually playing the thing reveals a game working overtime to be charming. This is a bus-driving game that is absolutely delighted to be a bus-driving game, and wants me to feel the same way. And y’know what? I think I do. And it’s all thanks to Mira Tannhauser, the world’s number one fan of being on a bus.
Read the rest of this entry »
Pro-bably not the best use of your money
For those after the very best that NVMe SSDs have to offer, Samsung’s Pro line has often been the go-to choice for workstation and power peeps alike. They’re usually faster than their more consumer and wallet-friendly Evo SSD siblings, and often come with higher endurance ratings for all that inevitable heavy-lifting they’ll be doing once you’ve popped them into your PC.
Today, I have Samsung’s latest, the 970 Pro. Big brother to the 970 Evo, this particular NVMe SSD comes in just two sizes this time round – 512GB and 1TB – and I’ve got one of the former. Let’s see if it’s worth the extra moolah.
Read the rest of this entry »
New game+, story and survival modes
Goodness me, I’d forgotten how brilliant the opening of Prey is. Bluffs and misdirects, some delivered on immediately, others saving surprises up for later, it’s an ever-backward-pulling camera as your complex situation begins to dawn upon you.
And thank goodness it is quite so good, because if you want to play Prey’s New Game+, or it’s Story Mode, you’re going to have to go through it in its vanilla mode before you can see the differences. There’s just some question about how much either adds. As for Survival Mode – well, it’s great, but it’s not a survival mode. Read the rest of this entry »